She was my mum’s childhood friend, but I was also very fond of her. She was more like my friend too. We could talk about books, movies, friends and so much more. I always looked forward to her visits. She was always well informed and full of energy. She was trained in Carnatic music and had a powerful voice. She spent a lot of time teaching music too.
Her husband was a complete contrast to her and very calm and quiet kind of person. They didn’t have children of their own, but they didn’t seem to have any regrets. Uncle worked in a PSU and was content. In his late forties, however, he was diagnosed with Retinal Detachment, a condition, which led to complete blindness in both eyes. He was also diabetic and suffered from Asthma.
He was forced to take voluntary retirement and his company did not have any pension scheme. Nevertheless, life went on and they were quite peaceful and happy. Uncle was always saving up and had made many investments through his lifetime. He was always concerned about his wife and wanted to ensure financial security for her, whenever he was gone. She kept herself active singing and teaching music, which also brought in some income.
One day he suffered an Asthma attack, and a heart attack followed. He did not survive. Aunt was devastated, and my Mum and Dad tried to provide as much support to her as possible since she did not have any immediate family to support her. She pointed out a stack of papers that Dad needed to sort out. What Dad stumbled upon was all the investments that Uncle had made during his lifetime. There was insurance claim to be settled and decisions to be made about all their investments so that she could have a comfortable life.
Uncle definitely had a very good strategy towards investment in stocks. Buy cheap, hold long, invest regularly etc. But when she pulled out the investments, she realized that there were so many problems associated with those investments. Many stocks he had invested in were worthless because the companies had closed down, many investments did not have nominations. Most investments were in physical forms even though dematerialization had been introduced in the banks. Consolidation of the investments took a lot of time and effort, even though there was enough that was saved up for her.
What made the situation worse, was that she was completely unaware of these investments. Even though she was well educated, they had apparently never discussed personal finances. She was very upset, that she had to stumble upon the investments after his demise. She was upset that she was suffering hardship all these years with a smile, just to keep him happy. She felt she would have liked to enjoy that wealth while he was alive and with him instead of receiving it this way. It was quite an emotional upheaval for her to have not only suffered the loss of a loved one, but to now receive money in compensation for that loss. Does money really compensate for such a loss?
She didn’t live long after his death to enjoy all that wealth. Both her physical and mental health deteriorated. She wasted some of her money away and landed in an old age home, where she passed away a few years later.
Whenever, I think of her, so many questions come to mind. Why didn’t they take joint financial decisions? Communication about finances is so important to ensure that we plan for goals that are mutual and agreed upon. Why did Uncle not review his investments regularly? While investment theories are all good, so important to do a regular check on the status, to ensure that your goals and your investments are in sync. And most important, how much do we need to really leave behind after we are gone and for whom?
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